With Africa falling behind in vaccination rates, and cases of infection spiking, influencers from the length of the continent have signed an open-letter to the G20, the international forum that gathers the world’s major economies.
“COVID-19 deaths are declining almost everywhere except in Africa, where they are rising,” the letter reads.
“Rich nations have pledged to donate over a billion vaccines this year and hundreds of millions more in 2022, as well as supporting Africa to manufacture and buy its own vaccines. This gives us hope, but most of these promises remain unfulfilled. Africa cannot wait. We need doses now,” the letter continues.
At the COVID-19 Summit held at the United Nations last week, world leaders backed an ambitious 70 per cent vaccination target across all populations.
Many wealthy countries are on course, or have already reached the goal. But few Africans have been jabbed. According to the UN, just four per cent of the African population is fully vaccinated.
“This inequity is unjust – and self-defeating,” the letter reads. “It leaves Africans – and the whole world – at the mercy of the virus.”
The signatories are urging fellow Africans to support the letter over the next month in the leadup to the next round of G20 meetings, due to take place late October in Rome. Currently, just one African nation — South Africa — is a member of the G20.
“I want the most at-risk Africans to be safe, to not die or end up in hospital with COVID-19 because they didn’t have access to vaccines,” comments Kidjo, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
“The only way that is possible is to urgently vaccinate much higher numbers of people in African countries – and we need doses and support for vaccine roll outs to do that quickly enough.”
Kidjo and her fellow advocates are requesting donations by December, along with resources to turn vaccines into vaccinations, plus training for healthcare workers, and equipment for them to carry out the task.
The open-letter is published in full here on the UNICEF website.